Cracking capers, real and imaginary.

Sex on the Moon

By Ben Mezrich

Mezrich writes addictive nonfiction about young people using unconventional methods to earn vast fortunes (counting cards in Bringing Down the House, social networking in The Accidental Billionaires). His new book recreates the stranger-than-fiction story of a fledgling NASA recruit who decided to steal moon rocks to impress his girlfriend. Of course, the heist goes all wrong–hilariously–and this astronaut-wannabe tumbles back to earth.


By Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell

In the dead of night on Valentine’s Day 2003 in Antwerp, $108 million in diamonds and other gems disappeared from a purportedly airtight vault in the largest theft of precious stones in history. No alarms sounded. No guards were harmed. So how did it happen? Selby and Campbell put the pieces together: the planning of an audacious heist, the curious characters involved, and the colorful, multi-faceted history of the European gem trade. Their painstaking recreation of the events yields a read as pleasurable as a great caper film.

The Gardner Heist

By Ulrich Boser

One Vermeer, three Rembrandts, five Degas, and three other paintings disappeared from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in March of 1990. An art detective tried to track down the thieves, but died before finishing the case. Following up on those leads, Boser takes the reader on an educational, exciting trip through the art underworld, where scholarship, greed, and ingenious trickery come together. (Readers of An Object of Beauty will recognize a key element of Steve Martin’s arch art-world comedy.)

The Great Train Robbery

By Michael Crichton

Here’s a case worthy of  Sherlock Holmes: one of the most sensational and audacious crimes of the Victorian era. In this fictionalized account of a real heist,  Crichton weaves together the worlds of both rich and poor as he follows con man Edward Pierce through the process of trying to get his hands on a steam locomotive — and a fortune in gold. The novel was one of Crichton’s earliest bestsellers: and the author went on to direct the film adaptation, with Sean Connery in fine form as Pierce.

The Hot Rock

By Donald E. Westlake

With a literary career that spanned half a century and over a hundred novels, Donald E. Westlake was never better than in this diabolically funny tale, which introduces his greatest creation. Big ideas come easily to John Archibald Dortmunder, but the ones he has for elaborate capers never quite seem to come off exactly as planned — and therein lies the appeal of this marvelous entertainment. In the first of what would become Westlake’s most celebrated series, Dortmunder and his pals take a crack at lifting the fabulous Balaboma Emerald.  Hijinks, naturally, ensue.

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